Future of Nation Depends on Grover Norquist's Definition of 'Tax Increase'

Grover Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform, is the guy who makes most Republican members of Congress sign a pledge never to raise taxes, making him one of the more powerful people in Washington. But today he's confirmed that there's a loophole in his pledge — one that's potentially worth $4 trillion in new tax revenue! Washington is too weird.

The Washington Post editorial board asked Norquist if allowing the Bush tax cuts to sunset on schedule, at the beginning of 2013, would violate his infamous anti-tax pledge. While he would obviously hate such a policy choice, he admits that it wouldn't technically violate his dumb piece of paper that everyone's so scared of breaking:

WITH A HANDFUL of exceptions, every Republican member of Congress has signed a pledge against increasing taxes. Would allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire as scheduled in 2012 violate this vow? We posed this question to Grover Norquist, its author and enforcer, and his answer was both surprising and encouraging: No.

In other words, according to Mr. Norquist's interpretation of the Americans for Tax Reform pledge, lawmakers have the technical leeway to bring in as much as $4 trillion in new tax revenue - the cost of extending President George W. Bush's tax cuts for another decade - without being accused of breaking their promise. "Not continuing a tax cut is not technically a tax increase," Mr. Norquist told us. So it doesn't violate the pledge? "We wouldn't hold it that way," he said.

Well, there you have it: One aging relic from Washington's Reagan-era College Republican set whose high school thought experiment dominates an entire national political party wouldn't qualify the expiration of an array of tax cuts as a "tax increase." This could change everything! Which is sad, but true.

[Image via AP]